...I have been working on this one question for a while so can everything we experience in life internally and externally be used as our teachers from a Buddhist point of view?examples.. Anger = powerful emotion active in a person when one is threatened or insulted ,,an injustice over a issue etc also known to protect the persons personality ( possible to say anger is a friend then ! ) anger is an emotion that is automatically generated ,defense mechanism. It is repetitive and has been for x million yrs within the human psyche. We could also say it exists in lower beings birds ,goats , dogs etc so anger could be an important link to other forms of life by now I think you'll get some idea about just one state of mind that's revealed so much ...

  • After specific words from Buddha's teachings that clarify weather everything we exp...can be our teachers
    – user10244
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 17:00

3 Answers 3


The Buddha told us the three marks of existence, all things which exist in the mind have these properties:

Sabbe sankhara anicca

Sabbe sankhara dukkha

Sabbe dhamma anatta

All conditioned things are impermanent, All conditioned things are suffering, All things are without a self.

This means that everything has the potential to teach us. We can learn about impermanence, dukkha, and not-self from anything which arises in the mind.

  • Yes that's what I figured but who is the dicerner as to what's factual and not ? For example if I was blind how does one explain. The sensation of a colored sky.
    – user10244
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 17:36
  • The Buddha as a teacher gave us the dhamma which we must see for ourselves. We have to be our own teachers to learn from our experience and see the dhamma. Your analogy with blindness isn't relevant here, you can see when things are impermanent and from that you develop an understanding of the truth.
    – Hugh
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 18:25
  • Yes ,,to some of your response except for termerlogy like see for your self !! Though the Buddha stated some similar discourse in my question is it fair to say that the self is judge when really there is no permanent self ie it is illusion... A person blind has lost the ability to judge what a sky is like !?
    – user10244
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 23:52
  • 'The mind' is the 'discerner' (rather the 'self'). Is there anything you as a 'self' consider your self to be that has not been first discerned by the mind? For example, if you consider yourself to be 'Australian', was your self-belief of 'Australian' something internally born into your mind at childbirth or was it something learned/discerned externally from a sense experience? Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 23:58
  • True the mind is the discerner.. As to being Australian I assume the answer is just terminology ...a word construct from society I feel human not Australian even though the Australian society would influence other wise the judgement is flawed..
    – user10244
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 0:16

Anger certainly exists in lower beings such birds, goats, dogs, etc. That is why, in Buddhism, anger does not represent the 'human state' ('manussa-dhamma'). Instead, in represents 'birth' ('jati') in the 'animal world' (tiracchā­na­yoni).

Sensual desire... ill-will (anger)... sloth & drowsiness... restlessness & anxiety... uncertainty is an obstacle, a hindrance that overwhelms the mind and weakens wisdom... when a monk has not abandoned these five obstacles... for him to understand what is for his own benefit, to understand what is for the benefit of others, to understand what is for the benefit of both, to realize a superior human (manussa) state (dhammā), a truly noble distinction in knowledge & vision: that is impossible.

Avarana Sutta

Although anger is certainly a pre-programmed instinctual survival mechanism, does anger teach us it is the ideal way to respond to perceived threats? Or is there a more 'human' ('reflective/wise') way to respond to perceived threats?

Buddhism explains everything can be a teacher, it that everything has:

(i) a cause/reason for its arising (samudaya);

(ii) a condition for its passing (atthaṅgama);

(iii) an attractive, alluring or stimulating quality (assāda);

(iv) a danger or drawback (ādīnava);

(v) a method to escape from the danger (nissaraṇa).

When people confessed their sins (moral transgressions) to the Buddha, he generally responded their sins were a 'teacher' for their growth & development. For example:

Yes, great king, a transgression overcame you in that you were so foolish, so muddle-headed, and so unskilled as to kill your father — a righteous man, a righteous king — for the sake of sovereign rulership. But because you see your transgression as such and make amends in accordance with the Dhamma, we accept your confession. For it is a cause of growth in the Dhamma & Discipline of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future.

DN 2

  • In defence of emotional structure and learning from them..the Buddha taught some great ideas but sometimes it's very easy to overlook the minor details or have deslike to negative emotion such as anger ! Who just maybe the only teachers we have as the mind in each person most likely is great at being a trickster as well as teacher. Just for thought a great wise man told me ..in regards to fear ..good snake
    – user10244
    Commented Oct 27, 2016 at 23:59
  • The Buddha found the emotion of anger is suffering; in that it burns the mind internally like a fire. The Buddha found anger endangers the life of oneself & others. The criticism of anger is not related to "dislike" but related to wisdom. From a Buddhist perspective, anger ultimately teaches you that you are not yet complete in wisdom. It is true anger shows their is a threat or social injustice. But anger is generally not the best way to resolve that threat or social injustice. If anger is used to resolve social injustice, generally, the result is a cycle of revenge. Regards. Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 0:03

A trite answer might be "Yes, everything is a learning experience! You can learn from anything".

A better answer might be "No: maybe not".

  • To start with, saying for example that "a turnip can be used as a teacher" maybe does a disservice to actual/genuine teachers (including the Buddha himself).

  • The Bhikkhuni Sutta suggests that various things like food, and even craving and conceit, can be helpful or instrumental. But not sexual intercourse, it says. It doesn't explain why, but perhaps we might infer that sexual intercourse cannot be "used as our teacher".

    Although I note that perhaps some forms of Buddhism do teach that, in some circumstances and for some people, there is something to be learned from sexual intercourse.

  • I suspect that maybe negative emotions, such as anger or jealousy, maybe can't be used as a teacher. Maybe they teach remorse ... however the lesson you ought to be learning instead of that is "skillful virtues" and "freedom from remorse".

    You say that anger "protects the person's personality, so it's possible to say anger is a friend then". I suspect however that if you practice anger, then that does nothing but teach you how to be angry (which maybe isn't a lesson worth learning, nor a "personality" you want to preserve).

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